Fire Safety Tips from the Inspector

By Stephen Gremillion, NPI Property Inspector, Montgomery, Texas

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) http://www.nfpa.org, there were about 365,500 household fires in 2015. As an inspector, I’ve learned that many house fires are preventable. In fact, the NFPA also states that three out of five fire deaths were in homes without working smoke alarms. This, to me, says that simply installing and maintaining smoke alarms could save your life.

When talking about fire safety, I like to break it down into three categories: Fire Prevention, Fire Preparation, and the Fire. Fire Prevention items are things that you can do to prevent a fire. Fire Preparation items are things you can do to be prepared in case of a fire, and the Fire is what to do if you find yourself in a house fire.

Fire Prevention:

  • Use caution when using electrical resistance heating items like toasters, heating blankets, etc.
  • Use caution when using open flames like candles, barbecues, fireplaces, tobacco, etc.
  • Keep your kitchen clutter free and clean of grease.
  • Fix sub-standard electrical work.
  • Add Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) protection. For more info: http://www.npihome.com/2016/2510/afci-and-gfci-outlets-improve-electrical-safety-in-your-home/
  • Keep your dryer vent and lint trap clean. For more info: http://www.npihome.com/2014/1248/have-you-cleaned-your-dryer-vent-lately/
  • If you have a wood burning fireplace and use it regularly, the flue must be kept clean. For more info: http://www.npihome.com/2014/1728/keeping-your-chimney-clean/
  • If you use portable heaters, they should be monitored and have a tip safety. A tip safety is a function that shuts off the heater if it tips over. Also, it should be kept clear of combustibles.
  • Get a home inspection. A home inspection can reveal problems like sub-standard electrical work, improper fireplace hearths, etc.
  • Get a thermal imaging inspection. A thermal imaging inspection can reveal electrical problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

Fire Preparation:

  • Proper smoke alarm placement and maintenance. You should have a smoke alarm in each bedroom and each adjoining space. These should be tested once a month, have the battery changed once a year, and be completely replaced every ten years.
  • Fire extinguishers. We recommend that you have clear access to an extinguisher in the garage, kitchen, and bedroom. You should be familiar with their use and have the right type. For more info: http://www.npihome.com/2014/1863/1863/
  • You should have two escape options from each room. (Second-story windows do count).
  • Teach your kids some basic fire safety.

The Fire:

Hopefully, you never find yourself in this situation. However, if you do, here are some basic tips.

  • If the fire is small, try to put it out with your extinguisher.
  • If the fire cannot be contained, then you must leave immediately. Gather your family and an extinguisher and leave through one of your planned routes.
  • Door handles may be hot. It is best to grab them with a piece of cloth.
  • Close doors behind you! It may seem silly, but it’s for a good reason. A door can act as a barrier in two ways; 1) It can restrict airflow, 2) It acts as separation that the fire will take time to burn through.
  • If you find yourself trapped, there are two important things you must do:
  1. Signal for help. A piece of cloth hanging from the window is a largely recognized symbol, but a phone call is better.
  1. Minimize your exposure to smoke and flames. This can be done by opening a window, getting low, covering your mouth with cloth, and blocking underneath doors with wet cloths.

 

Make sure to be diligent about fire protection to keep your home and family safe. Practice these steps and have a happy and healthy 2017.

Stephen Gremillion Stephen Gremillion is a professionally trained NPI property inspector working for franchise owner/inspector Garner Gremillion in Montgomery, Texas. If you live in the area, call 936 230-3440 to schedule your home inspection with Garner or Stephen.

Before you move, make sure to have your house inspected by an NPI or GPI home inspector. Visit the links below to find an inspector near you.

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Christmas Tree Safety Tips From The Inspector

 

By Stephen Gremillion, NPI Property Inspector, Montgomery, Texas

Christmas tree fireEvery year fires are started or fueled by Christmas trees. Now in no way am I saying that you should substitute a real tree for a fake one but here are some tips to help keep your home more safe.

Water Your Tree!
It may seem a little too obvious but a dry, dead tree is the first step to a fire and it can be easy to forget.

Switch to LED lights.
Not only do LED’s use less power but they also produce less heat. It’s a win-win; save on power while keeping your home and family safe. Most new light strands are LED so this is something to be cautious of if your lights are older.

tree2Remove Nearby Heat Sources.
It can be easy to do it without even thinking about it. Maybe you put an electric heater next to your tree. Or maybe an end table with a candle. Just be mindful and pay attention to avoid a potentially devastating mistake.

Check On Your Tree Regularly.
Remember your tree is most flammable when it’s dry. If it becomes a too dry you may want to consider removing the lights.

Ttree3urn the Lights Off When You’re Not Around.
Even though LED’s give off very little heat it’s still a good idea to turn them off when unattended. Just unplug the lights when you leave or go to bed. It may also prevent unwanted attention from pets.

Take the Tree Out By the End of December.
Don’t be someone who still has their tree up in the middle of February. By then it will be as dry as a tinder box.

Keep these tips in mind to make it a great holiday for you and your family.

 

Stephen Gremillion Stephen Gremillion is a professionally trained NPI property inspector working for franchise owner/inspector Garner Gremillion in Montgomery, Texas. If you live in the area, call 936 230-3440 to schedule your home inspection with Garner or Stephen.

Before you move, make sure to have your house inspected by an NPI or GPI home inspector. Visit the links below to find an inspector near you.

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Hanging Holiday Decorations? Remember Ladder Safety

By Jon McCreath, NPI Franchise Owner, Emerson, Georgia

NPI Franchise Owner/Inspector Jon McCreath performing a roof inspection.

NPI Franchise Owner/Inspector Jon McCreath performing a roof inspection.

As we come into the holiday season, and bring out our ladders to hang decorations, it’s a good time to review some ladder safety tips. Take it from me, ladder accidents can happen to even the most seasoned ladder users. I took a tumble earlier this year, and the photo below shows what happened to my arm.

A Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report on ladder safety revealed some startling statistics concerning the frequency and severity of ladder-related accidents. Every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed. By understanding the causes of ladder accidents, the vast majority could be prevented.

  • More than 90,000 people receive emergency room treatment from ladder-related injuries every year.
  • Elevated falls account for almost 700 occupational deaths annually. These deaths account for 15 percent of all occupational deaths.
  • OSHA believes that 100 percent of all ladder accidents could be prevented if proper attention to equipment and climber training were provided.
  • Over the last 10 years, the number of ladder-related injuries has increased by 50 percent.
  • According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 50 percent of all ladder-related accidents were due to individuals carrying items as they climbed.
  • The most common type of ladder-related injury, with 32 percent, is fractures.

Ladder accidents are extremely common even though they are entirely preventable. Ladder accidents can stem from a wide variety of issues, but the following four causes account for the majority. If these simple safety tips for each cause are followed, ladder accidents could almost be eliminated.

1. Selecting the Wrong Type of Ladder
Each ladder is designed to support a maximum weight limit; if the climber exceeds that limit, the ladder could break and cause the user to fall or become injured. There are three basic types of ladders:

  • Type III: Household, light duty, load capacity of 200 lbs.
  • Type II: Commercial, medium duty, load capacity of 225 lbs.
  • Type I: Industrial, heavy duty, load capacity of 250 lbs.
  • For extra-heavy duty work, such as roofing and construction, there is the Type IA with a 300 lb. rating. The strongest type of ladder is the Type IIA (which can support 375 lbs.) for special-duty jobs, such as heavy industrial construction work.
Ouch! Injuries can be painful when you fall off a ladder.

Ouch! Injuries can be painful when you fall off a ladder.

2. Using Worn or Damaged Ladders
Another common contributing factor to ladder accidents is the use of old, worn or damaged ladders. Thoroughly inspect each ladder before using it. If any damage is found, do not use the ladder until it has been safely repaired to the manufacturer’s specifications or it has been replaced.

3. Incorrect Use of Ladders
Human error is by far the leading cause of ladder accidents. Never use a ladder in any other way than that in which the manufacturer intended it to be used. Important use tips include the following:

  • Do not lengthen or alter a ladder in any way.
  • Maintain three points of contact (feet and hands) at all times.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Do not carry anything while climbing a ladder.
  • No more than one person on ladder at a time.
  • Always face the ladder when ascending or descending.
  • Do not climb higher than the third rung on extension ladders or second rung on step ladders.
  • Never try to move a ladder while standing on it.

4. Incorrect Placement of Ladders
Follow these tips for correct placement of ladders:

  • Place the ladder on level and firm ground.
  • Ladders should never be placed in front of a door that is not locked, blocked or guarded.
  • If possible, have a helper support the base while a ladder is being used.
  • The feet of the ladder can be staked if you are using a ladder outside and no one is available to support the base.
  • Do not use a ladder that is too short for the job.
  • Do not place the ladder on anything to extend its reach.
  • Use a 1:4 ratio in placement of the ladder: Place the ladder base 1 foot away from the surface it is leaning against for every 4 feet of height to the point where the ladder contacts at the top.

Have a happy — and safe — holiday season!

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What You Need to Know About Ladder Safety

Inspector on LadderEvery year, hundreds of people fall from ladders while hanging holiday decorations, and many people hang their holiday decorations in the fall to avoid hanging them in the cold and snow of winter. You may think you know how to safely use a ladder, but here’s a review, based on an article by CPSC Blogger:

  • Select the proper ladder for the job. It should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
  • Place the ladder on level, firm ground. Use leg levelers on soft or uneven ground, and have someone hold the ladder at the ground.
  • Check the ladder’s maximum load rating to be sure it can support your weight.
  • Make sure that straight and adjustable ladders have slip-resistant feet.
  • Straight, single and adjustable ladders should be set at a 75-degree angle.
  • Use wood or fiberglass ladders — not metal — near electrical wires or equipment.
  • Make sure all rung locks and spreader braces are set and work properly.
  • Watch out for doors. Keep ladders away from doors that may swing open.
  • Only one person should be on the ladder at a time.
  • Keep your body centered on the ladder — don’t lean to one side or the other.
  • Do not stand on the top three rungs of a straight, single or adjustable ladder.
  • Do not use the top step/bucket shelf of the ladder.
  • Never leave a ladder that’s been set up unattended, as this could be a hazard for children and pets.
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Have a Great Independence Day

All of us at National Property Inspections would like to wish you a great 4th of July. Enjoy the food, friends, fireworks and fun.

Happy Independence Day from NPI

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